Spotting the Light: Sumedha || Creative Spotlight – 8

Hey everyone! It’s time for another Spotting the Light post! Today, we’re interviewing Sumedha!

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Sumedha is a 19 year old Indian studying Computer Science and Engineering in college. Usually in her down time she’s blogging, reading or hanging out with her best friends. She does pretty much everything with her best friends. She loves looking at aesthetic pictures and basically gush about it to everyone.

What do you blog about? (books, lifestyle, etc)

I blog mostly about books, music and bullet journalling. Overall, though, I try not to keep a niche because I love the freedom to blog about anything I want.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I love taking up new projects and trying new things, especially online, so I randomly made a blog one day. I never planned anything but it actually got a lot of views and so I made an effort to do better at it. I recently changed my blog name because the old one was too long and no one could remember it.

Where do you get ideas for what you do?

For my discussion posts, basically anything that I feel ranting about. Once I actually wrote a blog post on a poster I saw at a bank. So basically anything, to be honest. I also DID make a blog post about this so you can check it out to know more.

If you could talk to yourself when you were starting out, what advice would you give yourself?

DO SOME RESEARCH. And choose a good, easy name!

What is your favourite piece of content that you’ve put out?

This is always hard to answer! I always feel like I could have done better with my posts. But there ARE posts I’ve loved writing. The most recent has to be my review of the movie Fallen based on the book by Lauren Kate. I’m not salty very often in my reviews but when I am, I totally let go.

Describe your progress, from idea to post

The brainstorming ideas post was the first of my blog posts to share exactly this in detail.
I usually write down my blog post ideas in my bullet journal. If there’s any planning for the content, I write that down as well. I usually don’t have the time to immediately type the post so it sits for a while and when I get the time, I come up with way more things to say. I usually frequently switch between the normal and html screens in my post editor because lately I’ve been doing a LOT of formatting. After I’ve typed it out, I add the images and schedule it. I plan my scheduling dates so that consecutive posts aren’t the same, so as to give a little variety. For example, I’ll do a book review followed by blogging tips and then a discussion post.
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What does a day in your life look like?

I’ve tried to pen down a routine but to be honest, I don’t have one. On the days I have classes, I wake up at 6am and get ready in a rush to catch the bus at 7. I’m at college until 4pm and get back home around 5:30pm, following which I chill for a bit. I start my assignments/work around 7pm or I sit down to plan things if I don’t go out with my friends. I don’t socialise very much but I hang out as much as possible with the friends I’m close to.
I blog on Sundays, typing up multiple posts at a time to utilize time better and be productive. Sunday mornings are for this. Since I have classes six days a week, Sundays are my only down time days so I use it to get things done as much as possible.

What is your favourite book?

This is HARD. My all-time favourite books are Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My latest favourites are Warcross by Marie Lu and the Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab.

What is/was your favourite childhood book?

I read mostly Indian comics until 6th grade because we didn’t have a proper library near my place. My mom used to bring home comics when she went to other cities for work. The first absolute favourite book of mine is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

What is your favourite song/artist the the moment?

I haven’t listened to any new music lately but what I HAVE been listening to on repeat is the Dusk till Dawn sing-off by Conor Maynard and Anna Maynard. I’m not a fan of Conor Maynard but I like Anna Maynard and make sure to watch the videos she’s in. I was blown away by her voice! I haven’t heard her singing before, so I really like it.

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Chocolate. Whatever chocolate. I’m not a fan of actual chocolates but I love anything chocolate flavoured.

Follow Sumedha here-

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States 2018 || Science Olympiad

States Recap.png
5:20.
alarm.

5:40.
roll out of bed, get ready, pack (bc was too tired the night before and bc lazy and bc was writing memoir)

6:12.
driving. very derealized. pretty sunrise. brief moment of being present. happy, almost start tearing up. quickly is derealized again.

7:23.
on campus. it’s familiar from past years, yet worn out by time. parking garage is familiar, but still vaguely horrifying. sees SW’s car. feels oddly comforted. walks on campus, sees rival school students. their shirt colors match ours. see my especial rival. we exchange peace signs and good luck wishes.

7:42.
homeroom. my last one. big room, auditorium like. gets wristband. puts it on lopsided. I feel oddly cheated. sits next to SW for briefing meeting. hooray for Wifi. I try to feel something. I fail.

8:12.
walking events with GM. is passed from behind by a group of three from another school. “sorry, sorry” they mutter. “it’s okay,” I say “experimental design is more important.” realizes how creepy that sounds. walks to rocks building. sees CK and RF. also MM and JC. they are very excited about live snakes.

8:22.
walking towards labs. speed limit 12. because 10 is too slow and 15 is too fast. I overshoot the lab. she’s running out of time. we’re by the gym. we find the side door. runs up 3 flights. BK’s dad leaning over the railing, concerned, on the phone. I’m a terrible chaperone. checks my lab rooms.

8:33.
leaves lab building. sees F parents and A. they’re struggling to keep the door open. it locks on its own. Mr. F holds the door, I find a big rock. problem solved.

8:47.
back at homeroom. talks with Mrs. B about helicopter transportation. parents are highkey stressed. it’ll be fine. but will it?

9:11.
lab apron, goggles, notesheet, box. forensics. it’s a beautiful day outside. an elderly couple out for a walk. what are you carrying? can I see the baby? I turn, surprised. the box with my sweater over it looks like a baby, apparently. I look old enough to have a baby, apparently.

9:24.
SW walks up. GM waits with us for her event. she goes in, we sign in. I’m out of it, and SW gears me up, which is an oddly sweet gesture?

9:35.
instructions. I hear the words but they never make it into my head. SW nudges me. you hear that? no plastics. I didn’t. I’m glad. I’m bad at plastics. we talk about the good test we have. the next table team looks over. yeah that regionals test was messed UP. we didn’t fill in half of it and we got second. they’re good. are we?

9:41.
small scoops of powders into the well plate. SW lights the bunsen burner. we have a real life legit bunsen burner. an actual bunsen burner. I am elated. I know most of what these powders are. SW does chromatography. he screws up one. it’s okay it’s okay, I reassure him.

10:02.
twenty minute call. I’m halfway through the powders. “I suggest you start the analysis” says the proctor. but I’m doing well at these powders. I keep going.

10:08.
powders are done. plastics descriptions matches notesheet, nearly word for word. brilliant. accidentally pour vial of strong base all over the counter. no time for that now. label forensic diagram. everything matches and it. is. glorious.

10:14.
start analysis. I can’t focus. five minute warning. no way can I do this in time. I write, but my focus is not there. four lines in, time is called. we’re sitting right under the proctor, so I can’t sneak a few more sentences. I’d done less than ⅕ of what was supposed to be on the analysis. the analysis is worth 30 percent of the score. “I told you” says SW. I’m sorry, I was doing powders

10:23.
gather everything, toss it back in the bin. leaves room, feeling confident but despondent. we’d been doing so well. but I missed the entire analysis. a flurry of activity distracts me for a second. SW runs off to his next event, I meet GM and CF coming out of theirs. GM needs to run too, so I take her stuff and my forensics box, and CF and I walk to the homeroom. “will your family come to get you?” I ask, wanting to avoid abduction accusations. “no, they probably don’t remember” she says. we arrive at our building. her dad is behind us, smirking. he did remember.

10:32.
“how was it?” chimes concerned parents in the homeroom. I drop the boxes where they belong. terrible, absolutely terrible. we finished about half the test. I have to talk to Mrs C. she’ll listen and calm me down. I leave.

10:36.
she must see the stricken expression on my face. “it was terrible. so, so terrible” I wail. she hugs me. “the powders went great, but I didn’t do the analysis. which is worth 30 percent. it was an awesome test, but we only answered 60 percent. it was terRIBLEEEE”
like I expected, she reassures me. “at least you got the powders. you think you got all of them?” I think I did, but I wasn’t sure. after all, my last powders test I’d only gotten a 65% on. she talks on. I listen, glad for something to fix my mind upon. she talks about growing up, having kids, change. she read my dramatic poem and she relates. we walk back to the homeroom.

10:42.
we walk to the homeroom. I internalize her words. by the time we get to the homeroom, I feel like talking. we sit and talk. about life and music and other events. normal things. I’m glad for the distraction.

11:12.
I get ready to head off. walking through the quad, see MM and lots of other people. we compare how events go. he heads back to grab some food. I continue on to the rocks building.

11:24.
arrive in front of the rocks room. there’s a group inside. I sit down on the floor outside to wait. some other students gather.

11:32.
MM joins me. we sit on the floor. I lean against him. waves of memories. the bookends of my science olympiad years. rocks and minerals.

11:35.
the proctor pokes his head out. you here for rocks? we nod. come on in, we already started. what? confused, we point at the sign. you don’t mean the 11:45 slot, do you? he’s baffled, but hides it. yes. we’ll give you extra time

11:39.
we go in, get our packet. I drop everything and we sit. MM takes over. I do basic binder work. it’s fast. easy. we got this.

11:57.
time for the stations. the pictures are terrible. not even real specimens. the rival school calls over the proctor. they point. no doubt they’re talking about us. our field guide. sure enough, he comes over. with the rules. “I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s allowed.” we’re ready for this. attached to the rings, in any form. we point, our hands bumping. oh. okay.

12:13.
I pick up a mineral. we look at each other. it is what you think it is, right? he writes it down. no words are needed. we need fifteen seconds. we get two minutes. we sit together on the floor. we don’t talk, breathing in sync. time’s up. we move, do it again.

12:24.
we’re done. that was bad, but it could have been worse. the pictures even match the pictures in our binder. we’re not sure of one. it’s not in our binder. we guess. educatedly. we don’t need the extra time. we walk out. that’s it. I drink water. he leaves, grateful for a break.

12:31.
I walk around. speed limit 12. it’s so warm. Mr. C is there. no one is clamoring for his attention. I go up to him, tell him about my day. he hears about rocks, gets all excited, whips out his phone. it’s okay. we know rocks. he calms down.

12:38.
the back gym. SW is there. so is mama. and Mrs. B. and our helicopters. I sit next to SW. we check our phones. time passes. we’re on a time crunch. I set up everything. focus, focus. I am focusing. do you want food? I thought you wanted me to focus. calm down. it’ll be okay.

12:45.
I go check in. where is KB? people start coming in. red shirts. the Fs, the Ws, the Ks. I go sign in. what team are you? I say it. one of the last times I ever will. the last time I get to fly with these people. he’s so nice.

12:52.
there he is.
KB doesn’t have blue hair? oh. we go stand in line. we’re second in line. they wind, meticulous, slow. it actually flies. they relax. it drifts up to the ceiling, floats back down. second flight. KB pokes me. electric drill, he whispers. I smirk.

1:03.
more people trickle in. the wall is lined with red shirts. I text Mrs. C. helicopters in 10 minutes. she texts right back. coming. Mrs M. is timing? people walk back and forth. I try to shield the helicopter with my body. if anyone breaks it we’re done for.

1:13.
still in line. we’re next. they fly. I’m keyed up but relaxed. KB and I stand in our own little bubble. action is all around. we’re like new parents guarding our child with our bodies and our lives. sees my especial rival. of course she’s here. she wouldn’t miss it for the world.

1:22.
our turn. I take a deep breath, unload my arms, clamp the torque meter. do we have paper towels? he shakes his head. my mind whirls. it flashes. the box top. I snatch off the lid. there it is. we wind, load. I walk to the center of the room. where? KB shrugs. it doesn’t matter. it won’t go up straight anyways. I close my eyes. this is it. five…four…three. I let go, swing my arms back. two…one. and it goes. unsteadily, but upwards. it rests on an edge. the red wall lets out a collective gasp. it’s staying up. it teeters on the edge. a swoop, it lands flat. everyone exhales.

1:28.
second flight. she catches my eye, gives me a thumbs up. I give her a thumbs up back. we wind, load. we have a good flight under our belt. this one could put us on stage, or even, on top of the stack. my last ever flight. KB counts down, loud and clear. the release. it flies, but not how we want it. it flies straight. but downwards. I look at him. I’m so sorry, KB. I’m so sorry. I didn’t check. why did I not check? it’s all my fault. how did I forget to check? I’ve never forgotten to check before. we walk out, in a daze.

1:31.
my hands are shaking. a tap on my shoulder. can I get you to sign this? I nod, numbly, scrawl an illegible version of my name. 1.33. we could have flown so much better, but also so much worse. you know where you went wrong, don’t you? of course I do. I’ll be thinking about it for years. I’ve seen lots of those, he tries to help. but it doesn’t help. we’d thought we’d be better than those. we know what we’re doing. or at least, we should.

1:39.
somehow, I find myself in front of the chem lab room. SW must have led me. I have all my stuff. we look at the comic wall. all I see is the helicopter. driving straight down. I need to shake it off, move on. I have one more chance. my last ever event. we gear up, sign in.

1:43.
we start. everything looks familiar, but I don’t know it. SW takes over. okay, so what you need to do is . . . I obey. he bends over the packet, intent. water boils. my hands are shaking.

2:13.
none of the math is checking out. I don’t even know the multiple choice. this is not going to turn out well. I start tearing up, but catch myself. not now. wait. there will be time to cry. nothing makes sense. both of us have forgotten this.

2:36.
that’s it. we did terribly, but I cling to a shred of hope. we walk back to the homeroom. I’m starving. what do we have to eat? mama pulls out a costco salad. God bless mothers. a tap on my shoulder. do you want to go outside? it’s Mrs. C. we go, stand around, talk. the boys are playing football. AH is studying for her government exam.

3:04.
RF and I sit on the bench. it faces bushes. the scenic bench. I eat my salad. it’s good. we talk. how warm. MM slams to the concrete. ouch. the peanut gallery has comments. the game resumes. we talk. stupid little things.

3:18.
everybody disappears, suddenly. Mr. C is back. MM takes a picture. the three of us on the bench. none of them turn out well.

3:21.
we file in. my last debrief. how was your day? terrible, but we all knew that already. I know I’m being hard on myself, but it’s my last tournament. I need to make it the perfect day, and it hasn’t been. none of the building events failed, which is encouraging.

3:41.
we’re done. more accurately, I’m done. dear heavenly father. a rush of tears.

3:46.
a flurry of activity. we clear out the room, load up our arms. I hand off the forensics box to Mr. C. he needs help carrying things out. I grab the box, stand there. CK swoops it out of my arms.

3:52.
we walk out. my family deserted me. team or sushi? what? team or sushi? we walk to the parking lot.

3:59.
the cool darkness of the garage. I outline the security story to RF. she laughs. her father works here now, apparently. we see SW and his dad. they’re looking for the C’s car. I find the key fob in my hand. there’s a gray van. we walk around, try the door, peer inside. the windows are dark. that’s not it. we walk. I push the panic button. the distant echo. we walk up, see the flashing lights. the C’s and the K’s are walking towards it. Mr. C is laughing. I hand him the keys.

4:04.
we find our car. daddy and D aren’t there. I don’t have service, but call him anyways. they’re coming. we load up the car, and walk.

4:08.
walking through campus, relying on memory. it really is a beautiful day. do you want to split a bowl with me? it’s P. yes, of course! where is chipotle. crossing the street. RF trips spectacularly. we see it. chipotle.

4:18.
orders food. can you order for me? sure, what do you want. I grab my bowl, join GM and other people at the tall counter. the most surprising smorgasbord of people–SW and his dad, Mrs. J and her twins, GM, AM, MM, AH, me. RF comes in with a bagel.

4:32.
they’re looking through my bullet journal. you didn’t get anything done. yes, GM, I know. you also know.

5:04.
start walking back. the campus is all uphill. it’s lovely seeing the campus without rain. trashcan.

5:24.
we’re sitting on the wrong side of the room. we should move. Mr. C refuses. we have all the results ready! hooray for competent administration. they’re still muddling around. I thought they were ready? the small F comes. sits next to me, shares my chair. so does P. he’s subbing for JK. he’s so excited.

5:34.
we start. we get first on our first event. a good start. next. where is AH? I run out, try to spot her. it’s her event. I hear she got fourth from behind me. she comes in. both her events finish.

5:46.
second in rocks???? how. I’m screaming. we go up in a daze. how did we mess up that badly? if rocks went that poorly, how did the rest of my events go?

5:49.
FIRST IN FORENSICS? How???

5:50.
middle school got first in rocks. how.

5:57.
we knew we were doing poorly, but this is exceptionally poorly.

6:05.
they pause. not really sure why; they said they have all the scores. this is exciting, says the small F. I used to think this was really boring, but now I understand!

6:09.
it’s KB’s events. where is he? I run out to see. his mom is pulling up. we go in. he got a ribbon. game on. helicopters. if we didn’t get first, I’m getting up and walking out. we get first.

6:42.
we got first. both teams. small school league, but still. chem lab didn’t get on the board, we’re not surprised. photos. so many photos. and hugs. we sing. to God be the glory, great things he has done.

7:04.
we start walking out to the cars. we’re all going the same way, why are we walking in different directions? I need to go to the bathroom, get water.

7:31.
start home. it’s still light out. my phone buzzes. want to stop for ice cream? we decide. I text everyone. some respond, some don’t.

8:29.
I sit there. it’s getting dark. I’m so derealized. I’m too dehydrated to actually cry, but I’m close.

8:32.
we pull in the parking lot, see red shirts. we order. the little ones go in the playground. I sit there, everyone else talking, not wanting the day to end.

9:22.
my phone buzzes. JC’s water broke, she’s having her baby! I’m so excited. we chatter more.

9:51.
some last pictures. we leave. my heart is full. that ending was perfect.

Growing Up is Overrated || My Thoughts About . . . Growing Up

i have four weeks left of high school
four more weeks with my friends, my routines, my life
four weeks until i go off into the Great Big World to seek my fortune, like stories say
i’ll get presented with a piece of paper that says i’m certified to do Life™
and i’m expected to break ties and forge new ones

it hurts.
i’ve been in the same routine for four years, maybe more
a part of me is straining at the bonds, waiting to see what will happen
the rest of me is willing time to move more slowly
willing myself to be more present, to take it all in
these last moments are to be treasured
hide them away
i need to store them as the memories come
i wish i could experience them fully
but i can’t thanks, derealization

i write but the memories fade
warped through the lens of time
what’s real and what did i think up

their lives will be the same
everyone moves up a grade
new band pieces will be chosen
new science olympiad events will be assigned
new cubbies kids will join
but i won’t be there
i’ll be with a couple thousand other kids who also don’t know what they’re doing
trapped on five square miles for four straight years

my friends will make new friends
adjust to life without me
i’m sure i’ll make friends too
but there’s no going back

back to the days in the band room
“running through” pieces “just one more time”
back to the days in the old church
looking at event pairings on the too-bright projector
back to the study days
rocks, powders, writing, talking, laughing
back to the kitchen counter
supergluing impossibly small pieces together
back to the church foyer days
waiting with bated breath to see fragile forms fly
back to the church basement
loving on kids that are much too small
back to the farm
giving presentations and eating snacks and talking about band

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there’s no going back
and it hurts.
tears are shed
so many tears
tears for the unknown
tears for the known
tears for the people
tears for the memories
tears for the love

it doesn’t feel like i’ve been doing the same thing for five years
but it has been
monday- science olympiad
tuesday- band
wednesday- awana
thursday- class
friday- more science olympiad
just as i was getting good at how it works
and it’s time to go.

growing up is overrated
people always talk about ‘when you go to college’ as if college is some glorious, magical place where everything is made right
i’ve spent the last four years of my life getting ready
internships, resumes, extracurriculars
standardized tests, advanced classes, opportunities
my list of accomplishments

but it doesn’t include the hours curled up on the couch with your friends
it doesn’t count the moments where it’s just you and your friends, when nothing else exists
none of these count, in the Big Picture™ of life
but those are the ones that matter

growing up is exciting
and beautiful
and challenging
but it also sucks
growing up is overrated.


P.S. a song that came to mind, not really related, but i thought i’d share

Spotting the Light: Ashley Tahg || Creative Spotlight – 7

Hello everybody! I’m here again today with YET ANOTHER interview! Today, we’re talking with the oh-so-lovely Ashley Tahg!

Ashley Tahg

IMG_5402 - Ashley HunterAshley is a developing writer, a part time poet, a still life photographer, as well as an avid journalist, and occasional scrapbooker. When she is not doing any of those things, she can probably be found reading or playing video games (she has an obsession with games that give both a beautiful art style and an immersive story world). She’s a strange Slytherin, an introvert who can masquerade as an extrovert, and an INFJ. Also, while not at all connected (currently), she also has a passion for Korean people, media and music and would love to eventually see her life headed in that direction.

What do you blog about?

I blog mainly about lifestyle and books. For me, blogging is a mix between media journalism (book and movie reviews) and a documented, online journal.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I started blogging in 2008, and honestly, it was a place to practice typing (I was homeschooled, and my mom got creative for typing class). All my friends had blogs, and I wanted one. Through the years, my blogging has been mainly a ‘just for fun’ experience, but this year, my tenth year of blogging, honestly feels like a ‘rebirth’ of my blogging experience. I’ve decided to return to blogging and set a new course. I decided, I have words to say and I want them to be heard and aside from my twitter, this is the best place to do so

Where do you get ideas for what you do?

Oh boy…well, that is something I always struggle with. Mainly, I draw from my life, my personal interests, but sometimes that fails me and leaves me creatively dried out still, in which case I can often find ideas in blogging prompts. No shame, folks, no shame.

If you could talk to yourself when you were starting out, what advice would you give yourself?

Well, I was 11 years old back then, so…there’s an awful lot I would give in the way of advice, but, honestly, there’s not much I would listen to myself on. There was a very heightened period, about three years ago, when I became very successful in book blogging. I had three or four book publishers sending me books almost monthly for me to read and review on my blog. I got distracted, busy with finding and holding a job, and the book reviewing got cut out of my life (and blog). I see that as a massive mistake and, if I could go back to 18/17 year old me, I would encourage her to not be so job-driven, and focus more on her love of reading and sharing books.

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What made you decide to start writing?

I don’t think I ever made the conscious decision to start writing. I remember being five, six years old and putting together stories from the pictures I drew. Then, being eight or nine and writing stories full of animals and mischief. Storytelling is a part of who I am, just as strongly as any DNA-bound part of me is.

What is your favorite part about writing?

The creation, definitely! I am a world-builder after Tolkien’s own heart and I have often found myself getting so carried away in creating the world, the people, the setting and society of my book, rather than doing any actual writing. There’s just something relaxing about making a new land and new cultures and immersing yourself in it.

What makes a good story?

Strong relationships between characters. It doesn’t need to be a romance, or even a friendship, exactly, but having that chemistry even between nemeses really propels a story forward. Where would Lord of the Rings be without Sam’s selfless friendship for Frodo? Or where would Star Wars be if Han’s begrudged loyalty couldn’t always be counted on? I could go on and on, but whenever a story has characters who fiercely love, trust or hate each other, I always find it enthralling. Also, food. I write so much food in my books because, we humans are obsessed with eating and yet you try and tell me that on a Hero’s mission NO ONE is concerned about food? Nooo, I write so much food and when I find authors who invest in writing and describing food, I instantly know they are a kindred spirit.

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Does writing energize you or exhaust you, and why?

Both, honestly. I go through sprints where I could write all day and never tire, but more often than not, writing is like pulling weeds. I love the worldbuilding, as I mentioned, but writing does not come as easily as creating. I think, honestly, it is because I have this massive, immersive view of how everything is, and sometimes trying to get everything out in word form can tire me.

How many books have you written? (drafts count too!)

10

What is your biggest challenge?

Lighting. Lighting is always the challenge. But also remembering your self worth. Everybody and their aunt is a photographer, it can easy to look at your photos and think ‘someone else could do this better’. And, it’s true, most of the time. But I also think of the second Mona Lisa painting (done by what historians believe might have been da Vinci’s pupil or lover). It is a gorgeous painting and I prefer it over Leonardo’s original. But it will never be as costly or as precious as the Master’s. While my photography may never be the talk of society, while I may never be remembered as anything more than a student of my art, there will be someone out there, somewhere, who finds it beautiful, and that, and the fact that I do truly enjoy capturing still life, propel me to never give up.

What is the most surprising lesson you’ve learned from your art?

Your favorite image may not be the client’s favorite image. Once, I held a photoshoot for a family where the mother was diagnosed with stage three cancer for the third time in her life. When I showed them the pictures, I showed the artistically prefered ones, the one where everything was flawless, where the wind was perfect, the lighting was optimal, and I was proud. But then I got to a picture that I had included just on a whim, it was far from perfect and honestly, I was a bit self-conscious about it. They loved it. It was their favorite and when I stepped out of my artist’s circle, I saw why. It captured them, in all their imperfect, dysfunctional glory. Sometimes, we photographers get so caught up in the perfect image, that we risk losing the right image.

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Where do you get inspiration?

Mostly, photography comes without needing inspiration for me. But theres this guy on twitter (and instagram), Brandon Woelfel (@brandonwoelfel) who is a wizard and photography. His command of light is absolutely magical. He is my greatest inspiration and photography role-model.

What do you want your legacy to be?

“She captured people; their soul, their laugh, their heart.”

What is your favorite book?

Chalice by Robin McKinley (or anything else by McKinley, for that matter)

What is/was your favorite childhood book?

The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques was my obsession (and possibly why I am so infatuated with food in books).

What is your favorite song/artist at the moment?

Absolutely anything that Sleeping At Last puts out is going to get heart-eyes from me. He isn’t just a musician, he’s a real legit artist.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Halo Top’s Mint Chocolate Chip is to DIE for.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’ve had so much fun with this interview! I’d love to find more people to connect to and share passions with (I’m legit the friendliest Slytherin you will ever meet). Thank you so much, Hanne, for hosting me!! I’ll have to return the favor sometime. 🙂

Go check out Ashley here!

Blog || Instagram (@pocket.full) || Twitter (@hushashesspeaks) || GoodReads (@AshleyTahg)

Spotting the Light: Hannah Marie || Creative Spotlight – 6

Hello everyone!! You already know what’s coming . . . another Spotting the Light post! Today, we are highlighting Hannah Marie! She is a YouTuber, blogger, and social media strategist. (Seriously. Check out her twitter. It’s adorable and cheery and I love it!). Let’s get started!

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Hannah Marie is, firstly, quirky & dorky, but that’s the way she likes it! She is an INFJ, a proud Ravenclaw, an anime addict, a YouTube junkie, a pastel princess, a wanderlost child, a total Tweeter, a novelist, a guitar/ukulele player, a song-writer, a wannabe photographer, and an occasional blogger… (RANDOM FUN FACT: She actually lived in Kenya, Africa for part of her life & have had a yearning to keep traveling ever since!)

What do you blog (youtube etc) about?

My blog & YouTube both cover a wide variety of subjects, but they all end up stemming back to my life/lifestyle… I discuss reading, writing, share personal stories, and sprinkle positivity whenever I can! I feel that social media & platforms like Blogger and YouTube (and our lives in general) are all about connections and building relationships with others! That’s what I strive for in my media presence.

What made you decide to start blogging/youtubing?

I started blogging when I started writing seriously, because I wanted to connect with other readers/writers! YouTube happened just recently for me because I wanted to try expressing myself in a new way, and video seemed to be the way to go.

Where do you get ideas for what you do?

I get my ideas from everywhere, honestly! From conversations with my friends to a funny meme I see on the internet, to the books I read… There’s inspiration to be had EVERYWHERE.

If you could talk to yourself when you were starting out, what advice would you give yourself?

Consistency and perseverance are the two words I would tell myself. Because I am truly consistent with uploading videos on my YouTube channel every week, I have gained several followers in a shorter amount of time. When I blog, it’s much more sporadic & I don’t have a clear schedule.

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What is your favorite piece of content that you’ve put out so far?

On YouTube, my most favorite piece of content was my “Death of 2017” video, as I was truly able to express my heart on a rather controversial topic.

On my blog, however, my favorite post was probably “My Thoughts on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series” post… Again, it was me expressing my heart on a traditionally controversial topic & I had a good response to it from my readers!

Describe your progress, from idea to post.

I occasionally have ideas at random moments during my day, but typically I just end up having sit-down “brainstorming sessions” in order to come up with ideas for my posts/videos. Whenever an idea comes to mind, I write it out in my Notes app on my phone, where I keep all of my ideas for future content.

Whenever it comes time for me to write/film a new post/video, I delve into the lengthy list of random ideas and try to select one that works for me. What I find acceptable for production at the time usually depends on what’s going on in my life/in the world at the time (relevancy) or what kind of mood I’m in at the moment.

The actual filming/writing process is the most awkward part (but it’s not super hard), because it requires me having to put my thoughts into words that other people can understand/relate to… and that’s what I love best!

From there, I go to editing. This is the most time-consuming & involved part of the process, but it’s extremely rewarding. I feel super accomplished when I’m done, and there’s a sense of pride in finishing a project when I hit that “save” button.

Uploading a project always makes me super nervous, but getting kind feedback always makes those nerves go away! I remind myself that nothing is perfect & that we are all learning how to improve ourselves, so I shouldn’t be nervous or embarrassed of my current work-in-progress.

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What does a typical day in your life look like?

Honestly, I am a very chill, laid-back person when it comes to my lifestyle. At this point of my life, I am an online college/uni student, so a typical day requires some decent amounts of studying & note-taking & reading. But besides that, I end up squeezing in some social-media time and some YouTube-watching time. I might do a tad of light cleaning, some light exercise, eat a couple of snacks and some ramen, and try to write some if I feel up to it. If it’s a filming-day, I set aside some time (hopefully when the sun is out!!) to film my weekly YouTube video. And if it’s a Livestream Day (Tuesday) I carve out some time around my lunch to do a quick liveshow on YouTube!

That’s about it! It’s quiet and cozy & I love it ❤

What made you decide to start writing?

I LOVED reading as a child, and I had sooo many stories of my own that I created, and I wanted to share them with the world! So, it only made sense that I become a writer.

How long does it take for you to write a book?

Up to date, I haven’t completely “finished” a book… but I would say that with my very laid-back schedule with my writing, perhaps a year or two?

What is your favorite part about writing?

I love being able to share my heart on important topics & weave in beautiful messages into my stories!

What makes a good story?

A good story needs 1) Good Characters/Character development 2) An Interesting Plot 3) A Good Message/Theme
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Does writing energize you or exhaust you, and why?

Both, simultaneously… It’s energizing because writing is the one time that I feel that I am able to effectively communicate my feelings & express who I am. But it’s exhausting because it takes a lot of thought for me to focus on what I’m doing & write the way I want to.

 

How much time do you spend doing research?

It honestly depends on the situation/topic… In some cases, I’ve spent hours studying and researching different types of middle-age weapons! And other times, it’s a simple Google search to see how warm it typically is in London in June! Lol!

How many books have you written? (drafts count too!)

12

Do you have a published work?

I actually DO have an article that was published in an anthology/devotional book. The title of the book is Beauty, Boys, and Ball Gowns.

What was the most interesting part about your publishing journey?

Honestly, the most interesting part was the way it happened! I met an editor of a Christian magazine via Twitter one day several years ago & we started chatting. Then she invited me to go through her special training bootcamp, where I learned all about how to share my message, how to interview celebrities, and how to compose a good article. She instantly recognized my affinity for writing & had me join her team of journalists & bloggers. Eventually, I wrote an article for an issue of the magazine & was blessed enough to have it accepted. And later on down the road, when the editor was planning an anthology of her favorite articles–she asked if I would be alright with having mine in the book, along with a blog post I had written previously.

It was an amazing experience.

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What is your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge is carving out time for doing art. Life gets in the way sometimes, so it can be challenging to make time for yourself.

Why do you do what you do?

There is nothing more satisfying than creating something that you are proud of…

What is the most surprising lesson you’ve learned from your art?

Art is simply an expression of your feelings. It’s a form of therapy. It doesn’t have to “look” good to anyone else. Just as long as you express yourself & get those feelings out, it is art.

Where do you get inspiration? (may include your favorite artists, etc)

Again, anywhere and everywhere…

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want my legacy to be one of smiles, laughter, and noticing the little things. Whismy and quirkiness… Soft and sweet… Gentle and soulful… Unique…

When did you start playing music? What instruments do you play? How long have you been doing music? Do you take lessons, and how long have you been taking them?

I started playing music originally when I was 8… I played piano & I HATED IT. So I quit. And when I was 13, I picked up guitar and LOVED IT. From there, I started singing, I picked up the mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and some piano again. Now that I’m 20, I laugh because I haven’t taken music lessons since I was 8, but that hasn’t hurt me one bit! I’m self-taught! However, I give music lessons to little kids as a side-job & love it.
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What is your favorite book?

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

What is/was your favorite childhood book?

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

What is your favorite song/artist at the moment?

Lord Huron

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Butter Pecan

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT I WANT, WHAT I REALLY REALLY WANT

And that’s it! Go give Hannah a follow!

Blog || Instagram: @plottingertwist || Twitter: @PlottingerTwist || Snapchat: @plottingertwist || Pinterest: @PlottingerTwist || Wattpad: @PlottingerTwist || YouTube

Book Review: If I Live by Terri Blackstock

About the Book-

THE HUNT IS ALMOST OVER.

Casey Cox is still on the run after being indicted for murder. The hunt that began with her bloody footprints escalates, and she’s running out of places to hide. Her face is all over the news, and her disguises are no longer enough. It’s only a matter of time before someone recognizes her.

Dylan Roberts, the investigator who once hunted her, is now her only hope. Terrifying attempts on Dylan’s life could force Casey out of hiding. The clock is ticking on both their lives, but exposing the real killers is more complicated than they knew. Amassing the evidence to convict their enemies draws Dylan and Casey together, but their relationship has consequences. Will one life have to be sacrificed to protect the other?

With If I Live, Terri Blackstock takes us on one more heart-stopping chase in the sensational conclusion to the If I Run series.

My Review:

WOW THIS TRILOGY. This is my exact reaction to my friend at 4 in the morning, after I read book 2 and book 3 in one night.

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First of all, I DEFINITELY recommend you reading them in order (in all trilogies, but I feel like if you didn’t read this one in order, it’s impossible to follow the story). All three books in the trilogy flow together SO WELL, not just physically (the covers match to make a picture!) but also story-wise.

The characters are THE BEST. There are points of view from both protagonists as well as the antagonist, and they all go together to paint the full picture and what goes on in the minds of the characters. (ALSO THE SHIP THAT HAPPENS HERE. ITS PRETTY MUCH THE ONLY SHIP THAT I AGREE WITH IN BOOKS)

All the plot twists in this book are amazing!! Halfway through the book, I thought it was about to end, but then A PLOT TWIST HAPPENED. There were so many but it didn’t feel overdone at all.

ALSO SO MUCH ACTION. There was a lot of legal action (aka, stuff that happens at the police station), but as far as I can tell, it’s very realistic and actually makes sense.

The last thing I liked about this book was all the faith content. The first book (and also a little in the second book) didn’t contain so much faith content (which I get, as part of character development), but there was so much in this one, despite all the action, which I really appreciated.

One thing to keep an eye out for is all the violence in the book. As one might expect with a suspense novel, there is a lot of violence, which I don’t recommend at 2 in the morning, but it might be a little bit much for younger readers or those not comfortable with that violence.

BUT overall? I’M SHOVING THIS TRILOGY AT EVERYONE I SEE. EVERYONE.

My Rating:

8/10

Good things-

  • The characters were well developed (SO SO WELL DEVELOPED. OMGNS)
  • The Point of Views were well balanced between the characters and felt natural
  • A lot of action
  • Seems realistic (in terms of law enforcement and the scenes and stuff…but then, I’m not in that world so I wouldn’t know)
  • THE SHIP. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but like. THE SHIP THOUGH.
  • All the plot twists!!! All the way through the book, I knew what was going to happen (at least, I *hoped* that everything was going to come out okay), but there were so so many plot twists that happened along the way
  • All the faith content and the spiritual talk
  • The coherency between all the books

Bad things-

  • A lot of violence (well portrayed, which means realistic, but there are guns and shooting and death and etc)
  • It feels a little deux ex machina at the end (in regards to the media)

Thank you to NetGalley for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

to my writer friends || my thoughts about…writers

here is a moment of appreciation for authors and writers.

to my writer friends

those young 10, 11, 12, 13 year olds learning to use their voice. learning to how to type. looking towards older writers to see how to DO this. reading voraciously to satisfy their needs. probably writing retellings that aren’t so loosely based on their favorite books.

those finally seeing the scribblings of their younger selves come to some fruition. those realizing the foundation that the stapled pages of lined paper laid. those starting to sort through the emotions of growing up. and those who write, just because they have to, and they want to, and they love to.

those who finally embrace their love of writing. those who write after their school work is done. those who just read, and read, and read, then think, and write. those who finally start to build up pages of writing. and hundreds and thousands of words. those who have finally hit a flow in their writing.

those who write even though it’s hard. those who force themselves to sit at a keyboard and just. type. those who write even when they don’t feel like it. those who spend endLESS hours at a keyboard, trying to figure out the plotholes. and the words. and the characters. those who write, just because they have to, and they want to, and they love to.

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those to whom ideas come like water from a tap. those to whom ideas come rarely, but strongly when they do. those who spend endless hours on pinterest “plotting,” fleshing out their characters and worlds and plots and storylines. those who keep a notebook by their bedside, of all the ideas that come to them while floating in the subconscious ether.

those whose words flow from their fingertips and energize them. those whose words come, but not without thought. those who pour their soul into their writing and walk away from their keyboard drained. but a good drained. those who write, just because they have to, and they want to, and they love to. 

those who spend hours upon hours figuring out how to make storylines flow together. those who plan sequels, and trilogies, and entire series. those who WRITE these sequels and trilogies and series. those who write fan fiction, flash fiction, novels, novellas, short stories. those who write. anything.

those who shout with their voice into the void of The World™️ about valuable truths about God, and about life, and themselves. those who take their words and their time and use it powerfully. those who write, just because they have to, and they want to, and they love to. 

those who guzzle coffee, or tea, by the gallon. those who force weary eyes to stay awake, who force tired fingers to keep typing, because the words need to come out. those whose computer desktops are covered in files, full of their writing. serious and otherwise. those who google things, such as ‘the fastest way to kill someone’ or ‘how to hide a decomposing body quickly’ or ‘the weather of some obscure village in Russia on exactly October 24th, 1905.’ those who set aside their own reading pleasure to do research.

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those who push through burnouts. those who set deadlines. those who dissolve in tears at the mere thought of writing another yet another query letter, or another synopsis. those who would rather do ANYTHING else than have to talk to another company about their own art. those who write, just because they have to, and they want to, and they love to. 

those who don’t know if they really, REALLY, are cut out for this. those who look at all of the OTHER writers in the world, and wonder if they read their gut right. those who feel like their experience isn’t worth anything, that someone in this vast world must have had more experience than they did.

those who have spent countless hours getting their book ready to be published. those who have pounded their keyboard in frustration, unable to edit that sentence *just right*. those who fight for themselves and their voice, before their voice can be released to shout for itself. but in the end, those who write, just because they have to, and they want to, and they love to. 

i see you. we see you. those of us who aren’t writers, we see you. and we applaud you. thank you for what you do. we admire your determination and your persistence. what other craft requires this amount of sheer DEDICATION and attempts before it’s finally successful.

thank you, for what you do. thank you, for putting your voice out into the world. thank you, for even if you haven’t been published yet, to have been SO DEDICATED to a craft to be willing to spend your time, so much of your time, on it. thank you. as a nonwriter who is friends with many, many writers and authors, i can’t relate to you when you talk about your wordcounts, or your struggles, or the endless battle of writing a query, but I SEE YOU. even if you aren’t published, we see you. and we appreciate you. love you guys. ❤


(also!!! if literally NONE of these things apply to you, don’t feel discouraged!! That doesn’t make you ANY less valid of a writer! these are just things I’ve seen from my friends!)

Spotting the Light: Evangeline Yackel || Creative Spotlight – 5

Hello everybody! Today is time for another Spotting the Light post! Today, we’re interviewing Evangeline Yackel!

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Evangeline is an INFP, Slytherin, and tea enthusiast. She is a bit of an adrenaline junkie and will try any gross food at least once. Her life goal is to become a Hobbit.

What do you blog about?

I started out blogging every day which I quickly learned wasn’t entertaining when I didn’t really…do anything. Now I blog about books, writing, and random life things.

What made you decide to start blogging?

You know how they say to go against the crowd and march to the beat of your own drum? Well I did the opposite. Blogging was really becoming popular in my group of friends, and so, to feel like I was a part of something, I started blogging. Now, I am so thrilled that I decided to go with the crowd (in that area) because blogging has changed my writing style and it has introduced me to so many wonderful people.

What is your favorite piece of content that you have put out so far?

It’s hard to pick just one (especially because I think I’m hilarious), and I usually tend to pick favorites based on how much fun I had writing it, but if I had to pick just one, I would choose a Top Ten Tuesday post I wrote on Things That Will Make Me Want to Read a Book.

What made you decide to start writing?

I honestly have no idea. I wish I could give some eloquent answer about how I one day discovered the power of storytelling, but I don’t have one. I wanted to be a tap dancer when I was 3, but then suddenly, I decided I wanted to be a writer (probably because of how much I read). Ever since then, there has been no question that writing is all I ever want to do with my life.
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How long does it take for you to write a book?

Am I being lazy? Or am I in the middle of NaNoWriMo? If it’s November, I get super competitive and write as much as I can manage without my hands falling off. My goal is to win in under ten days this year (can you believe that? I think I’m starting to go senile). On average though, I write 1000 words in 12 minutes. Also, I go much faster towards the beginning because that’s when I’m super excited the shiny new book I’m writing. BASICALLY: I am not one to pinned down to certain time measurements (or I’m just forgetful and have never actually tracked how fast I write novels??? …nah).

What makes a good story?

I am an emotions driven person. I judge things based on how I FELT. If I close a book and am left with some sort of emotion (other than “BLECH”), then I count it a good story. Now if you were to ask me what makes a GREAT story, I would require access to PowerPoint, a snack, and hours of preparation.

How much time do you spend doing research?

Oh boy, I love research. I also hate it. It is a fascinating, time consuming thing that used to stop me up when I was writing a first draft. I would get on the Google to look up one small thing, and the next thing I know, I’m learning about the snowfall in Bulgaria! And I’m writing a book in the desert! What I’ve started doing is saving all that research (unless it is so important that the story simply can’t go on without it) for the second draft. Instead of researching for an hour and writing for 15 minutes, I ignore the research. Example: “The CITY SPECIFIC TO THE COUNTRY lights shone with the light of AMOUNT OF WATTS ON AVERAGE LIGHT BULBS in the BETTER WORD FOR CLOUDY evening.” Okay I don’t think I’ve ever written a sentence like that in my life, but you get my meaning.

How many books have you written so far?

7. I started writing when I was 6, finished my 1st book at 12, started blogging at 13, finished 2nd book at 13, finished 3rd book at 14, finished 4th book at 14, finished 5th book at 15, finished 6th book at 15, and finished 7th book at 16. I am just now starting to edit. Help.

What is your biggest challenge?

I love the piano, but MY HANDS ARE JUST TOO GOSH-DARN TINY. And this may sound like an insignificant whine, but trust me, tiny hands makes every complicated piece 10x more difficult.
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Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because I love to create. I love to practice the beauty that God put inside me. I was created out of love and inspiration, and so it is my response to His constant love and grace to give Him what I have: my music, my words, my watercoloring. At first I felt that all of that was too small for the very same Creator who made the galaxies and spoke the world into existence. How could my words and art compare? And then I thought about it from the position of a Father accepting a drawing from His child. The drawing itself may not be beautiful in comparison to the Father’s artwork, but it is beautiful to the Father because it came from the child. It was painted (or written or played or whatever) by the hands of His precious child that He adores, and so that thing becomes precious. To Him, it is one of a kind. LONG STORY SHORT (which I have already failed to do lol): I create because He first created, and I cannot help but respond to the Life and beauty that He put inside me.

What is the most surprising lesson you have learned from your art?

I have learned that nothing is wasted. Even though I have so many paintings and drawing ideas that ultimately will never see the light of day (they are currently in ashes….many feet underground), none of those were truly failures. At first, I was frustrated that *this* hadn’t worked out and I had just wasted all this time, but then (after a little more time of stomping around like a two year old who had just been told she couldn’t eat 15 lollipops for dinner), I realized that even Michelangelo had to start somewhere, learn, and have bad paintings. He got better, he rose up in the art world (in fact, he probably used those bad paintings as step stools to climb higher). The lesson I learned was that even though I might feel like something was BAD, it will ultimately be a step stool that I can use to climb higher (and that also means I get to step on it, which will make me feel better).
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What do you want your legacy to be?

(Okay, Uber Cheesy Christian Answer. Here we go.) As much as I love writing and blogging and all of my other interests, I see them as tools. My life purpose is to show others His goodness, and to live every day fully engaged with Him. SO: I want my legacy to be His goodness shining through me, His love overflowing onto others, and His grace touching lives. (Yes, I know it’s cheesy, but I honestly mean every word of it.)

When did you start playing music? What instruments do you play? How long have you been doing music? Do you take lessons, and how long have you been taking them?

I started playing piano because my sister was doing it (once again, #orginalEvangeline), and then for a while she was teaching me what she was learning (that did NOT go well. It ended in a lot of tears, bribery, and yelling), but I quickly decided that piano wasn’t for me and in fact, it was from the Devil. Four years ago, I (on a whim) started learning A Thousand Years by Christina Perri, and fell in love with the piano itself. I have taught myself from tutorials on Youtube (and thankfully, there is much less crying and bribing).

What is your favorite book?

That’s just cruel. Um, favorite SERIES: The Raven Cycle. Favorite BOOK: AHHHHHH I DON’T KNOW

What is/was your favorite childhood book?

This I can answer. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Corduroy. I was fascinated by the little tiny bed that he sleeps in at the end. I also really loved Beowulf (which I read when I was 8. I don’t know why 8 year old me loved it so much. It is quite a gore-y story).
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What is your favorite song/artist at the moment?

Sleeping At Last. He is just such a lyrical and melodic master. I am in love with every song he writes and covers. All the heart eyes.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

MINT CHIP. I WILL DEFEND THAT FLAVOR UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you so much Hanne for the chance to be a part of this!!! Your blog is amazing, and I GET TO BE ON IT!!! *deep breath* It’s cool, yo.

Thanks, Evangeline, for being willing to come on my blog and share this awesome interview! Go follow her here!

Blog || Twitter @AnOddWriter || Pinterest @Evangeline Yackel || GoodReads @Evangeline